The inevitable inevitably occurred at SummerSlam as the show ended with the coronation of Roman Reigns as the new Universal champion. Wisely, WWE was able to simultaneously plant the seeds for a WrestleMania 35 showdown between Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman.
Sunday was not a good night to enter the Barclays Center as champion. WWE crowned four new title holders during its signature summer pay-per-view. Seth Rollins, Charlotte Flair, Ronda Rousey and Reigns are the company’s newest champs, which is especially significant in Rousey’s case. All signs point to Rousey headlining Oct. 28th’s all-women Evolution pay-per-view.
The show also included the return of Finn Balor’s “Demon” character, a phenomenal Becky Lynch heel turn and the highly anticipated match between The Miz and Daniel Bryan that failed to live up to expectations.
·Seth Rollins defeated Dolph Ziggler to win the Intercontinental title
·The New Day won by DQ over SmackDown tag team-champion the Bludgeon Brothers
·Braun Strowman defeated Kevin Owens to retain the Money in the Bank briefcase
·Charlotte Flair won the SmackDown women’s championship in a triple threat match over Carmella and Becky Lynch
·Samoa Joe defeated WWE champion AJ Styles by disqualification
·The Miz defeated Daniel Bryan
·Finn Balor pinned Baron Corbin in less than two minutes
·Shinsuke Nakamura successfully retained his United States championship in a win over Jeff Hardy
·Ronda Rousey won the Raw women’s championship by forcing Alexa Bliss to tap out
·Roman Reigns pinned Brock Lesnar to win the Universal title
Here are my takeaways from the show:
1. WWE did a tremendous job setting up Brock Lesnar against Braun Strowman at WrestleMania 35.
Lesnar cost Strowman the opportunity to cash in his Money in the Bank title contract, and Strowman served as the distraction that allowed Roman Reigns a chance to catch Lesnar off guard.
Lesnar should no longer be champion, but he is an asset when used as a special attraction. Keeping Lesnar in the WWE is a mutually beneficial agreement, especially considering his recognition value will be even greater after his UFC heavyweight title fight against Daniel Cormier. Whenever Lesnar returns to WWE, rest assured that advocate and real-life confidant Paul Heyman will be with him.
Strowman could not cash in his Money in the Bank contract opportunity at SummerSlam because the night was designed to finish with the focus on Roman Reigns.
2. Roman Reigns finally defeated Brock Lesnar to win the Universal title.
The match was set up extremely well, executed even better and played to the strengths of both Reigns and Lesnar. The question now becomes, what comes next?
Will WWE book Reigns as a babyface champion? Does he need to be kept away from Strowman in the hopes that more adults will cheer him?
Reigns deserves the chance to be champ. He has improved on the mic, in the ring and is one of WWE’s most charitable stars. How will he present as champ?
3. The Miz and Daniel Bryan share no in-ring chemistry together.
The WWE faithful at Barclays did not enjoy the match, and it was apparent that Miz and Bryan are not ideal opponents for each other inside the ring. Bryan is better suited for a much larger opponent to fill his role as underdog.
As for the story of the match, it was well told. The Miz needed to cheat in order to defeat Bryan, which prolongs the feud between the two.
4. The return of “The Demon” was short and effective for Finn Balor.
Balor needed a squash win over Baron Corbin, which he received. Will WWE now go forward with a Reigns-Balor feud for the title?
5. Becky Lynch’s heel turn on Charlotte Flair has one shot to work, and that is through Lynch’s first heel promo this Tuesday on SmackDown Live.
The Barclays crowd already supported Lynch in her attack against Flair, so it will be extremely important to make Lynch as unlikeable as possible to the crowd in her new role.
6. Why was Kevin Owens booked to lose to Braun Strowman in 110 seconds?
7. Ronda Rousey finally got her first taste of WWE gold, forcing Alexa Bliss to tap out to her armbar in only four minutes.
I understand why Rousey was booked so strongly, though it does hurt Bliss, who looked like an extremely weak champion. How is Bliss supposed to stand up to the legendary Trish Stratus at October’s Evolution pay-per-view?
Also, the finish to the Rousey-Bliss match offered no real suspense before Bliss tapped. For Rousey’s sake, hopefully her opponent for Evolution is someone other than Nikki Bella.
8. Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler combined for an incredible opening match that set up the entire card for success.
Rollins is a deserving Intercontinental champion, but he should also be competing with the newly returned Dean Ambrose against Ziggler and Drew McIntyre for the Raw tag team titles. Adding these four men to the tag title picture would instantaneously revive a division currently led by the B-Team.
9. AJ Styles and Samoa Joe set the table for an upcoming Hell in a Cell match.
The two wrestled for just under 23 minutes before Joe won the match by disqualification. It was smart not to have the WWE title change hands when the focus was on ending the show with Reigns as the focal point.
10. Where do we go from here?
Can Owens challenge Strowman again for the Money in the Bank briefcase? Will Reigns be given the right opponents to kick off his new Universal title run? And will AJ Styles ever be the main event of a pay-per-view again as WWE champion?
SummerSlam was good but not great.
The show delivered the correct results to move the storylines forward and ignite the slow build toward WrestleMania, but overall was far from consistent in doing so in the most convincing fashion.